Prayer is a political thing. As we approach the throne of grace, we literally invoke the heavens to come down onto the earth. And when the heavens invade our world, the Earth is literally reborn, reimagined, recreated, redeemed, and renewed. The heavenly reality is so much more than a fuzzy after-life. Rather it is another kingdom and dominion-- an utterly different reality than the one we know. Jesus said that this kingdom was literally crashing into our current living situation.
In Jesus' day, and in many places still, disease and sickness bring great stigma with them. One can easily think of some of the more dangerous contagious diseases that exist and how individuals are isolated from the community in order to protect the village from infection-- such as leprosy in the NT. Jesus, of course, interacted with many diseased people-- healing many but not all. Although we today are often blown away by the miracle (and we should be!), what often goes unnoticed is that he interacted with these people in general. The act of speaking, dining, and touching these people was the more important healing-- to be recognized as a human being who has worth and value rather than being stigmatized and rejected.
When we pray, we must imagine a new way, a brand new reality. Often we ask God to heal the sick among us; however, are we truly imagining a new interaction and treatment of these individuals? Are we dreaming of new ways for the community to minister to these souls as well as ways for them to contribute in wonderful ways to the community? Jesus prays to the Father while touching and eating. The prayer is not detached from the individual's place in life.
As we approach election day, I am receiving plenty of emails and blog posts about how I should vote as a Christian, passionate pleas to vote in particular ways or for particular candidates-- all written as end of the world, life and death decisions. How can I vote about issues surrounding poverty without touching the shoulders of someone who is impoverished? How can I vote about health care without eating with someone who has none? How can I vote about relationships and ethics until I've cried with someone caught in the midst of true trial? If one truly cares about poverty, then she will eat with the poor. If one truly cares about abortion, then he will befriend a woman who felt like she had no other choice. If one truly cares about the sanctity of marriage, then she will listen to the gay man who pours out his heart. Without this tangible interaction, we will not know how to pray. If we do not know how to pray, then we will certainly not know how to vote.